Back to out regularly scheduled update. I have been debating the merits of writing this story of the worlds most ghetto comics shop for a while. I don’t like to think of myself as a mean person and I don’t know if this qualifies as mean (it probably does). Ultimately I decided that if Rob was up for it, we would go ahead and go John Stossel on the store in question. Rob is my older stepson.
Two great things about Rob are 1) he is really good company, especially if you are a geek like I am and 2) He is usually up for anything that sounds fun. So before we attacked the main subject of this article, we did a dry run at our actual local comic shop. Heroes Comics in
Unfortunately, Dave, the personable owner operator was not in that day so I didn’t get a chance to take his picture. Rob wanted to try taking some “stealth” pictures in Heroes before trying to snap the awesome eyesoredness that is the worlds most ghetto comic shop. Well the stealth part of the operation did not go so well in Heroes as Rob forgot to silence his camera phone. When he took a picture, everyone in the place heard this loud “cu-lick”. So we had bugs to work out before the next phase.
Heroes is a real class act. It is not the kind of comic shop that scares off the non-comic geek. It is clean and has no gaming tables (which I think are always a scary element to non-geeks). The staff is not socially awkward and the shop has a lot of cool stuff for sale besides comics.
Check out life sized Thor!
Lately I have been visiting this section a lot. Look for a discussion of the anooying brilliance of Cerebus in the near future.
Then there's this:
Is there really such a thing as ESSENTIAL Ghost Rider?
If you are living in a major city, Heroes is probably pretty not as comprehensive compared to what you have but for the central valley, there’s not too much to compare it to. So Rob and I snapped our pics and made some purchases (I got Volume 5 of Cerebus, Rob got some Horror Clix) It was back to our house and then onto the legendary Wonderland Comics.
I live in a part of
This is one of the oldest neighborhoods in
Deep in the heart of the Tower District, nestled between Chase Flower shop (run by our friend Michael who actually officiated our wedding) and Repeat Performance, the Towers coolest thrift store, sits the legendary Wonderland Comics. Rockin sign!
Wonderland comics has a lot of things going for it.
1) It has a HUGE selection of bronze and steel age back issues. I mean seriously. Rows and rows.
While I was in the shop, I IM’ed my buddy Randal and asked him to name a comic, any comic, and I would see if I could find it. He selected the Wonder Man series from the late 80’s. As soon as he said it, I turned to the 50 cent box I was in front of and…
2) They have incredibly obscure merchandise. I picked up a Will Eisner book for my friend Gabe and Rob found a KULT Role playing game book that he has seen on EBay for over 40 bux.
3) They are laid back. No hard sell here.
But along with these pluses, are some serious drawbacks. First of all the place is a dump. Books litter the floors and most of the short boxes are out of order. It used to smell bad but they seem to have fixed that problem. Be warned that when you leaf through the comics, a dark and sticky film will slowly coat your hands and arms.
Another problem is the prices. When you select something to purchase, you have to take it to the counter where the guy behind the stack will look up the price in the OPG. He will then give you a quote. Near as I can tell, he takes the NM price and knocks little off of it, regardless of condition. For example, Wonderland had a fire a few years back and some of the back issues have smoke and water damage. Doesn’t matter. Prices still stand. I remember bringing him a burnt and wrinkly copy of an Aquaman issue of Adventure Comics from the seventies. He quoted me 6 bucks! I bought it anyway. Hey! Don’t Judge! It’s Aquaman dammit!
Lastly the staff is just plain creepy. I decided it would be crossing a journalistic line to show actual photos of the people who work there but let me describe. First up is the very friendly guy who is in charge of the action figures (they have an amazing assortment there). He is very nice but he comes on with a real hard sell. When Rob and I were there he tried too push some Star Trek TNG dolls on us. The prices were not that bad but Rob and I are not figure guys. Next up is the shops younger employee. Again he is real friendly, but he is real chatty and geeky, and well, I’ll just show you.
Yes he sleeps in a little bed in the back of the store. Not in a store room. This is in the back of the store, right behind the long boxes and in front of the role playing games.
Not sure why he needs this handy but…
The coupe-de-gras is the man behind the actual checkout counter. It’s more of a stack of crap with the owner behind it. Now the owner, I am not going to cap on the poor guy too much but he is a big guy who has a lot of years behind him. He does not have the best hygiene in the world which is kind of standard for a lot of geek shops (you should see the guys and Rob’s favorite air-soft shop), but this is just nasty:
Kind of the wall of
So yeah, because of the messiness of the place and the outrageous prices, I don’t make it a policy to shop there. In fact it had been over a year since Rob or I had gone even though the shop is literally a block away from the house. But on this trip, we found out that they had started the 50 cent boxes. Ugh! We actually left, went to the ATM (because of course all they take is cash) and ended up returning to purchase stacks of comics. How sad! Oh well. I got a gift for my buddy Jon and loads of classic books to make snarky remarks about in future blog entries. Thanks Wonderland!